Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 3 November 2021

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach

General Scheme of the Central Bank (Individual Accountability Framework) Bill 2021: Central Bank

Photo of Mairead FarrellMairead Farrell (Galway West, Sinn Fein)
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I agree with Mr. Cross about the cum-ex scandal being complicated. Those people were able to defraud billions of euro from European tax authorities over a number of years precisely because it was complicated and it took time for what was happening to be noticed. The reality is that it is not a victimless crime. They took that money from tax authorities, meaning that ordinary people suffered because they do not get the services that they should as provided from the state. That is a simple fact.

With some of the firms related to this cum-ex scandal, all the directors are still in place and some of the directors still hold 100 or 150 directorships. That this happened before their noses is deeply concerning. I know that the Central Bank engaged with the EBA. I read online the Central Bank's responses to the EBA questionnaire. Some of the responses are quite interesting. It was asked about the various investigations that were being carried out by other European regulators into the scandal. When asked if it was aware of any criminal investigations being carried out relating to the dividend arbitrage trading schemes and if it was taking any specific actions, the Central Bank stated:

The Central Bank of Ireland (CBI) has not carried out, nor are there any current plans to carry out, supervisory reviews/actions to detect tax related operational and compliance risks in the context of dividend arbitrage schemes.

The Central Bank also noted that it was aware that two credit institutions were included in the German tax authority’s case investigating such schemes but that no supervisory actions were taken against either. I find that of concern. Why did the Central Bank not sanction any of the funds or firms involved in this?

The Central Bank also advised European financial regulators that it was not resourced to investigate these complex cases. We are all aware that these are complex trading schemes. The Central Bank stated that market surveillance for such suspected tax-retained schemes were outside its remit. Why does Mr. Cross believe it is outside the Central Bank's remit?